There was a lot of contact during Thursday's Buc practice, which was at times good and at times bad
Only one player – John Lynch – was sitting out when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Thursday practice began at 2:00 p.m. By the midpoint, he was joined by three more injured Bucs and the team's injury report had doubled.
There is, however, no need for panic. While the total tally of ailing Bucs jumped from three to six, there are still no entries on the list considered worse 'than' probable, a designation that means the players are 75% likely to play on Sunday.
Lynch's fellow bystanders were T George Hegamin, who twisted his left ankle, C Todd Washington, who did the same to his right ankle, and LB Derrick Brooks, who is working through a sore back.
"I think we're okay," said Head Coach Tony Dungy, referring to his team's health status in the last days before a trip to Chicago to face the Bears. "John Lynch is doing better. Derrick Brooks rested during the second half of practice – he's got a little bit of a lower back strain that should be fine. George Hegamin turned his ankle during practice and Todd took him in. He doesn't think that's too severe. Other than that, I think we're okay."
Lynch, in fact, is hoping to return to practice on Friday after missing two workouts with a pair of deep bruises on his left thigh. S Dexter Jackson has been filling in at strong safety in his absence. Lynch, like Brooks, is the leading Pro Bowl votegetter at his position in fan balloting.
Though they are sometimes seen as a reflection of a team's 'desire', Dungy does not appreciate fighting during his practices. The Bucs, in fact, rarely see such activities during their workouts, but Thursday's session featured a few intra-team squabbles. It was also a very physical effort overall, despite the ban on tackling.
That and a slow start had Dungy initially displeased with Thursday's practice, though he felt better about his team's progress by the end of the two-hour session.
"It was a little bit feisty, yes," said Dungy. "We didn't start off probably the way we wanted to. We had some mistakes and some repeats and a couple of plays weren't maybe as good as they needed to be. But as practice went on, it got better and we finished off pretty good."
Dungy didn't mind, for instance, when LB Jamie Duncan finished up the second of a pair of a two-minute drill periods with a goal-line pass breakup that sent FB Mike Alstott sprawling. The contact was an incidental by-product of a decisive play, and neither player was injured or upset. However, several other plays that initiated contact continued after the ball was dead. Dungy doesn't see a place for that activity in practice.
"Not in my mind, but I guess you generally judge a game by the contact that goes on during the plays, how physical it is, and how fast it is," he said. "After the whistle blows, though, everything else is kind of window dressing."